Hong Kong Resorts

Protestors gather outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014Hong Kong police used tear gas for the first time on Sunday to disperse pro-democracy protests and baton-charged the crowd blocking a key road in the government district after Hong Kong and Chinese officials warned against illegal demonstrations.

The city’s Admiralty district had descended into chaos as chanting pro-democracy protesters converged on police barricades surrounding their colleagues who had earlier launched a “new era” of civil disobedience to pressure Beijing into granting full democracy to Hong Kong.

Xaume Olleros | | AFP | Getty Images

Protestors gather outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014

Police, in lines five deep in places wearing helmets and gas masks, staged repeated pepper spray and baton charges and threw tear gas. The crowds fled several hundred yards, scattering their umbrellas.

Police had not used tear gas in Hong Kong since 2005, to break up World Trade Organisation protests against South Korean farmers.

Chanting “remove the blockade” and “shame on you”, thousands of protesters blocked some of Hong Kong’s busiest streets, Gloucester Road and Harcourt Road, and milled among the stalled traffic after Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying pledged “resolute” action against a movement known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace.

Read MoreHong Kong group launches civil disobedience campaign

“The police are determined to handle the situation appropriately in accordance with the law, ” Leung said just hours before the charge began.

A spokesperson for China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office added that the central government fully supported Hong Kong’s handling of the situation “in accordance with the law”.

Inside the cordon, thousands had huddled in plastic capes, masks and goggles, a defence against pepper spray, as they waited for a fresh police charge to clear the area before Hong Kong opens for business on Monday morning.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as “one country, two systems” that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Universal suffrage was set as an eventual goal.

But Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city’s next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down Central. China wants to limit elections to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.

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